I'm thegrubworm from London. I've been Qyping since 22-01-2010
- Reviews: 26
- Friends: 39
- Invitations: 0
- Photos added: 12
- Videos added: 0
- Places categorised: 0
- Events added: 0
- Checkins: 0
- Compliments received: 34
- You're hot:0
- You're hilarious:0
- I agree with you:0
- Write more:0
- Cool guide:0
- Awesome group:0
- Amazing profile:0
- Great photo:0
- Well written:6
- That's useful!:28
thegrubworm's Qype profile
66-70 Brewer Street, London W1F 9TP
Stuffed sea gulls hanging from the roof, a blood pudding and potato dish called “heaven and earth”, “professional mentalist” Derren Brown in the basement. Surely this was a weird dream brought about by unbalanced humours or lack of red meat?
But there I was sitting in the peculiar high ceilinged space, a cross between a glam speakeasy and a chop house. Hix himself has had a long association with the YBA’s, which explains the hallucinatory artwork hanging in the restaurant,
The food itself tended more towards well-grounded than high falutin' artistry. The signature “Heaven and earth” tasting deeply earthy with a deep, strong meaty flavour and texture, offset very well by the creamy smooth potato.
Lincolnshire onion tart, unusually for such a meatily masculine restaurant was the star of the meal. Smooth and unctuous onions were not at all overpowering, and it came topped with a poached egg. A shade overdone for my taste, but still delicious.
On to the mains. Hanger steak with roast brown marrow was tasty, but not as tender as some I’ve had. The bone marrow was very marrowish, dressed with parsley and garlic, it was richly glutinous and almost too much.
My hogget chops were delicious, marbled with thick veins of lamby fat, the pink meat was tender with an almost gamey taste. It came "garnished" with massive wedges of roast squash and cobnuts.
I can’t speak for the partridge because, by the time I moved in to take a nibble, it’d been hovered up, a neat pile of bones left gleaming on the plate. I suspect it was pretty tasty.
The food was hearty, heavy and unashamedly English. The cooking was as robust as the ingredients. This was not the place for subtle textures and delicate touches. I waddled out feeling like i had swallowed a cannonball. Albeit very tasty cannonball.
1 Upper James Street, Soho, London W1F 9DF
Imagine, if you will, walking into an end-of-the-world Wiemar cabaret, a bright salon on the eve of a revolution. The air rich with decadence and possibility, and the clear whiff of luxury.
That’s how it felt, dining in the idiosyncratic and timeless BobBobRicard. The Wonkerish “press for champagne” button, the Pullman booths, the truffle, champagne and caviar laden menu. And of course there’s Leonid (aka Bob) leaning rakishly against our green leather booth. “Champagne?” he said, “after all, it is Wednesday.”
I love this sort of almost-too-luxurious, over the top place, all green leather, dark wood and art deco tiles, like some glam and stylish Al Capone speakeasy transported to a twenties Moscow back alley.
My chosen starter was a beautifully prepared venison tartar. The seasoning was spot on with no Worcestershire or Tabasco needed. Unctuous, smooth, meaty with a strong, but not overwhelming taste of deer. I could have had this for starter, main and dessert. Hell, i could’ve scoffed this bambi for elevensies and been happy.
Quails eggs and truffles showed deft handling of strong flavours. Instead of overwhelming the creamy eggs, the truffle added an intense bouquet of earthy richness. And the prawn cocktail was a pitch perfect rendition of the fifties classic. Big juicy pink prawns hung like punch glasses around a bowl.
Roast leg of lamb was tasty, a classic example of well sourced meat, cooked simply and brilliantly. This was actually as good as my mum’s lamb, which is not something I’ve ever been able to say of any restaurant roast lamb.
Veal Holstein was flawlessly executed, with a wee little quail’s egg fried and laid atop the golden crispy crunchy plate of tender cow. This was good stuff. And it came with smooth, earthy truffled mash, and a hidden pool of seret sauce...shhhhh.
And the pudding – oh my God the pudding. A masterstroke of menu choosing here, I went for the comparitively plain sounding salted caramel ice cream with oh, some other flavours. Spooned into my mouth after a shot of frozen vodka, the sweet-savoury tang made my toes curl and squeezed a little jig of pleasure out of my tapping feet.
So, BobBobRicard. Big, bold and somehow still well balanced. Not for a daily visits, it’d tarnish the allure. But when the world’s crashing down around my ears, this is the place where I’ll be partying. Going down, all hands on the champagne bottle.
7 St. John Street, Smithfield , London EC1M 4AA
Vinoteca. Vino Teca. It’s all in the name really. Vino, wine, the glorious grape. Rightly known and talked about for it’s fabulous choice of wines by the glass, this simple wooden floored winebar has a (albeit widely known) secret. The food here is pretty damn good too.
These guys pay a lot of attention, not just to the food and the wine, but to how the two combine. Their daily changing menu has glasses of wine matched to each dish that you are free to select should you want. And the cooking, like a good wine, is full of clear, well balanced flavours.
To start we had watermelon salad scattered with wibbly and light pink moscato jelly cubes, a gentle feta and shavings of black olive. This was super fresh and zingy, a real spritzer of a dish that got the meal off to a light start.
The other starter was a complete contrast. A fried morcilla, poached egg and green bean dish that was strong, savoury and delightfully oily. The morcilla was tip-top quality and packed full of bloody flavours. Yum. My only complaint was that the egg had been poached solid, and I prefer mine to be ready to burst with runny yellow yolk.
We then hit some meaty mains with relish. The guinea fowl above was moist and tasty – not overwhelmed by salty prosciutto. The romesco sauce was really more of a puree made from ground walnuts and almonds and lashings of chilli. They could have used a little less chilli for my taste, but the nutty texture was delightful and quinoa gave it a little wheaty bite.
Char grilled steak was cooked to medium rare perfection. The steak itself was fully flavoured and I think came from grass fed UK longhorn cattle which, given the intense taste and wonderfully (slightly) chewy texture sounds about right to me. My favourite type of beef. The chips were pretty fine too – crispy skinned, soft centred salty wedges that just made you want to eat and eat and eat… Nobody could keep their mits off.
Now for the wines. We started with some provencial rose – pale and elegant with a light and subtle fruity flavour and dry edge – and a vermentino from Les Arches, France which was all peach flavours and lightly blossomy aromas. With the mains we went for a Chillian pinot with the guinea fowl and a petite sirah from the USA with the bavette.
The former was fresh, fruity and gently complex with a long and tasty finish. More akin to a burgundy than a typical new world pinot. The sirah though, wow, it was a belter. Heady and deep, this was concentrated stuff. Alongside the almost over-ripe flavours there was an almost hypnotic aroma that drew my nose right down into the glass until I was virtually snorting the viscous liquid.
Vinoteca has jumped up the list of favourite eateries. The experience is so chilled out and everything so tasty, it’s just really good fun to visit.
49 Frith Street, Soho, London W1D 4SQ
I should make a disclosure before I go any further. I like Udon noodles. In fact, I REALLY like udon noodles. There is just something so satisfyingly toothsome about them – all thick white and wriggly with just a dash of delightful stickiness. Maybe it's down to some forgotten childhood worm addiction.
And these aren't your usual run-of0the-mill vacumn packed Chinatown udon. No siree, in Koya they're hand- (well, foot-) made in the traditional Japanese manner. Oh boy.
First impressions were good – the restaurant was simple and low key buzzing with lowlevel chatter. Of the sides/starters, Kakuni (braised pork belly with cider) and Lenkon (green leaves and lotus root) salad were the picks, although kaiso mixed seaweed salad, and Kamo roast duck were tasty.
The pork belly was just right, making a strong bid for dish of the evening. It was all tasty intense meat that just about clung together, coming apart in unctuous strands in your mouth. The fat was soft, glutinous and decadently rich.
The lotus root came as crispy fried slices covered in sesame seeds and tasted, well lotus rooty, which is better than it sounds. The green leaves were lightly peppery and thedressing tart. It was a great start to the meal.
When it came to the main event, you could have almost any combination of hot or cold udon with hot broth or cold sauce (to pour or dip – the distinction is important).
We settled for udon in hot broth with beef, hot duck broth and hot pork and miso broth, both with cold noodles, udon with vegetable tempura and a duck and rice donburi. The beefy hot noodles were undoubtably the pick of the bunch. The beef was tasty and broth deeply flavoured with a real gingery edge to it. Real reviving stuff.
The pork and miso was intense, sweet and rich. It went well with the noodles, but became almost too much after a while. It would have been better a a starter sized dish. The duck broth was lovely and deeply flavoured, although not quite as good as the beef.
While the broths were tasty, it was the noodles themselves that stole the show. They had real bite and a wonderful elasticity to them. I would have been happy with a plain portion to noisily slurp my way through. The donburi was good, but it wasn’t close the the noodles or the pork belly.
140 Fetter Lane, London EC4A 1BT
Pork belly. Those two words open up vistas of pleasure for most carnivores. Who would have thought that something so simple sounding could deliver so much pleasure? And at lunch, well, it’d be a sin to pass it up.
28-50, named for the latitudes between which most wine is grown, it’s the more casual, wine-focussed, sibling of Texture. With the stripped back simple wood tables and underground space, there is something of both Terroirs and Vinoteca about it.
A wide selection of good wine by the glass meant I got to pair my gazpacho and pork belly with a glass of lovely crisp, balanced and tasty Aussie Riesling. The perfect foil to the unfolding fleshy delights of my pork belly.
This came in a couple of thick strips, tender strings of meat barely held together by glutinous, soft, almost sweet fat that luxuriously slipped down as I ate. Balanced atop these were two strips of flash fried pork crackling.
All this might have been too fatty and intense were it not for a bed of lightly pickled cabbage. The key here was the light touch. There was no tear inducing sinus blitzing on first bite, it just tickled your tongue and gently stripped away the fatty pork coating.
I’d come here again, only this time I’d spread it out over an evening – plenty of wines by the glass and lots of charcuterie and starters. It’s really more that kind of place than a lunch spot. Even an hour felt rushed and we missed dessert as time ran out. That is not a criticism, more a recognition that it’s worth investing a little time to enjoy the food and wine here.
12 Covent Garden Market, London WC2E 8RF
From my regular fix of builders tea, the colour of London brick, to a postprandial peppermint or jasmine green tea, I probably drink between six and ten cups of the stuff a day. And so, it was with some excitement that I scored an invite to a tea tasting run by Tea Palace.
There was a lot of interesting info about the provenance of the various teas as well as the processes involved in making black, green, oolong and white teas.
Something I hadn’t realised was that tea bag 'dust' was an waste product from the processing of tea. It basically seems like my builders’ tea is made from floor-sweepings. Still, I do love a good cuppa, even if it isn’t tip-top quality. I am an addict.
On to the good stuff. I got to shove my nose right into some of the finest teas around, ones I would not often come across. Darjeeling, yes I’ve had plenty. But first flush – the equivalent (I think) of a grand cru classe from Bordeaux? That I’ve never tried.
The first batch were the black teas: the aforementioned first flushand a regular Darjeeling, an Assam and a Ceylon. I thought the Darjeelings had been slightly over brewed as they came out a wee bit bitter, but I could taste the fine smooth flavour nonetheless.
But what surprised me was that I preferred the Assam. It was strong and supple, with a slight nutty spiciness . And while the flavour was strong, there was no bitter edge. Grade A stuff.
Next up was a batch of Iron Goddess of Mercy oolong. While it sounded like a torture device involving spikes, screws and razor sharp edges, it tasted appropriately divine. Gently nutty, it had a strong flavour without the maltiness of black tea or the grassy taste of greens. And a lingering sweet aftertaste.
The greens came from China and Japan. Again, a surprise for me. I thought I would go for the Japanese tea, but it was a Chinese sencha that really grabbed me. It was a full body massage in a cup. I could feel tendrils of sweet grassyness wending their way through my body after my first sip. And the taste lingered delightfully.
Other greens included a delicate White Monkey (so called as the tea merchant who first sold it claimed his monkey picked it and then sold it at a premium – did someone mention PG tips?), and a Japanese Bancha – crisp and tasty.
The white teas were heavily flavoured with rose and jasmine and were the only disappointment. They were interesting, but the aromatics completely overwhelmed the tea. I found the same with a pineapple and aloe vera green tea and a vanilla- laced black. But then again, as a hardcore addict, I don’t want my tea adulterated. I want to mainline the pure stuff (even its dirty dust) when I can.
If this tasting was anything to go by, the teas at Tea Palace are very fine indeed. And importantly, there's ones to suit every palate. Peppermint aside, I'm not an infusions person, but I know people who are and who would love the floral and fruity teas.
And, if like me, you love your Sencha and Assam, Oolong and Ceylon, you will be in tea-addict nirvana. Well worth a visit.
144 Clerkenwell Road, London EC1R 5DP
Blimey, everytime I turn round it's like a new Vietnamese restaurant has sprouted up. This one fills the spot formerly known as as Potemkin (which seems to have sunk without a trace).
Cafe VN is emblamatic of the new breed of Vietnamese style cafe-restaurants. Following the lead of Pho restaurant they are eschewing the canteen-like or mock Indochina decor you find in most established joints in favour of a more contemporary and sterile feel. The menus are shorter too, but still cover the basics of summer rolls, bun cha and pho.
The menu is short, sweet and covers the basics, and is well priced. Everything you expect to see is there, with one or two interesting extras like watermelon bubble tea.
Of the starters we had the summer rolls were fresh and tasty, but didn’t set the world alight. The squid though was scrumptious. Deep fried in a light batter with some mild chillies on the side, it was tender and tasty. I would have preferred punchier chillies, but the ones accompanying added a nice fruity edge.
Bun Cha, grilled belly pork and salad on cold rice noodles was decent. The pork was lightly sauced and lacked that crunchy bbq edge that bun cha should have. But it was tasty none the less.
But the noodles...oh the noodles. They were great. Toothsome, textured and kinda stretchy. They provided a great contrast to the pork and salad and the sauce stuck to them like bogies to a finger. They were worth the price of admission alone.
The spicy prawn soup – Bun Tom Hue I think – was okay, the stock was tasty and the prawns large, but the overall effect was a little bit meh. It needed something oomphy like chilli sauce to resurrect it.
I would come back here again. This clearly isn’t aimed at hard core Vietnamese food fanatics, it’s a local Clerkenwell lunching spot and is savvy enough to tailor its food to match.
27-31 Clerkenwell Close, London EC1R 0AT
Stripped back factory/workshop space all exposed brick and wooden floors? Check. Tables of pinstripe and jeans-clad media types drinking lattes? Check. A preponderance of iPhones and Converse? Check.
So far, so Clerkenwell. But boy, does this place pack out over lunch. The reason? Fresh and fabulous food you can order and eat in an hour.
The emphasis here is quite definitely on quality, with only about six ever changing choices. One day might see onglet and chips, the next beetroot cakes and salad. Those converse clad media people obviously know when they’re on to a good thing.
Asparagus farfalle pasta was perfectly al dente with a delicate flavour and just the right amount of bite. It’s so easy to be too cautious with pasta and serve it limp, overcooked and flavourless. Not here. The asparagus was fresh, there was generous lashings of cheese and a deliciously creamy sauce replete with whole cloves of garlic.
Chorizo and cuttlefish stew was full of large, meaty and tender slabs of cuttlefish coated in a rich tomato sauce. The sausage provided an intense and smoky backdrop and fresh garden peas balanced the richness with a freshness that made it a suitably summery stew.
The glorious scarlet beetroot cake landed like a meaty UFO in front og me. And it was out of this world. Sweet and delicate in flavour, but with a luxurious feel, topped with lightly steamed purple sprouting broccoli and a perfectly poached egg. The dish was all oozing yellow, zingy green and a deep, almost bloody, purple. It was almost enough to turn me veggie. Almost.
Only one downside, it’s only open one evening a week on Thursdays and you need to book.
Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
Sometimes a long leisurely meal is not what you want. Sometimes you need to get in and out like a viking raid (minus the raping and pillaging of course). It’s amazing the way a need for quality food at speed reduces your choice.
Unless of course you go down the sarnie and drink route – a quick Pret, an Eat or, god fobid, a Greggs style abberation. But there is a third way. The Canteen way.
Canteen isn't the place for a long dinner with many courses, while the emphasis is modern British food, it’s not St Johns or Rules. It highlights on the menu the dishes that come quickest out of the kitchen for goodness sake.
But it also highlights that everything is made in those very kitchens, from the buttered Arbroath smokies to the piccalilli. No “special sauce” or Heinz mayo here. No siree.
So I don’t mind sharing a 6 person table with two other couples, I don’t mind the odd average dish, because you know what? It’s a damn site better than anything else you can get nearby at the same speed.
It’s a bit like the calculation I made as a wayward teen, applying some fiendish algorithm to determine which wine brought most alcoholic bang for my (minimal) buck.
Here it's the small dishes that deliver on the bang-for-your-buck scale. I went straight for devilled kidneys on toast with a side of chips and some spring greens.
The kidneys were great. Properly meaty without that bitter edge you can get if they’re not absolutely fresh. The texture was firm but not chewy and they put just the right amount of cayenne kick into the sauce.
They came perched on a delightfully tangy, stretchy piece of toast that lent a certain crunch to the affair. Greens were fresh and tasty and the chips were decent.
My friend went for the roast chicken and I was surprised both at how good it tasted – juicy, darkly meaty and distinctly free range – and the size. This was no stunted teen (or accelerated toddler) this was a properly matured fowl. The skin was properly crisped too. Delicious.
And the whole lot, including 2 caraffs of wine and a pint of Meantime IPA came to something under £40.
I'd give it 3.5 stars if I could.
15 Leigh Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 9EW
Crucial to the whole experience of eating in Chilli Cool is to go in a big posse of ravenous bellies. This way you can sample a decent spread. An experienced memeber of our gang actted as Sherrif, taking control and ordering a plethora of exciting plates.
And out they came, one after the other, veiled in a chilli laced fog of inviting aromas. Thank goodness someone kept track of what was what, because soon after my first bite I sank into a chilli induced trance as flavours I didn’t even know existed befuddled my poor brain.
First out of the kitchen was sliced Pigs ear in sesame sauce, followed in quick succession by beef and ox tripe in chilli sauce, sea fragrant aubergine, hot and chilli crispy pork intestine, sea spicy shredded pork, sliced beef Szechuan style lavishly topped with chilli & Szechuan pepper, stir-fried pork and green beans, mini-lamb skewers fried with chilli & chilli powder, and stewed beef tendon.
I won’t even try to go through all nine dishes individually, because there isn’t space. And because the whole experience blended into a whirlwind of new tastes and textures as I dug into one plate then another eager to pile as much into my gob as I could.
It was like feeding burgers to a starving man, I just couldn’t get enough. The chilli heat was as intense as anything I’ve eaten while the Szechuan peppercorn induced numbness added whole new layers of dribbley fun to the experience.
Highlights were the pigs ear, served cool, it was chewy, porky, hot and cold at the same time, with helluva chilli kick that rose up from the back of your throat after your first nutty bite.
Crispy pork intestine was full of texture and flavour,a crispy exterior giving way with a crunch to a meltingly porky morsel inside.
The beef tendon wibbled and wobbled in my chopsticks like a giant beefy jelly baby, and incredibly satisfying to eat
But for me, king of the table and as luxurious as a Raja’s palace, was the sea fragrant aubergine. Eating it was like having your mouth massaged by soft silk-gloved hands. Hands covered in chilli.
Once the smooth rich fleshy aubergine slices were messily finished, it was all I could do not to thrust my face into the oil and slurp it up. I made do with pouring it over my rice (and liberally down my shirt).
If like me you are new to the cuisine this is a great place for an intro. Don’e be frightened by the offal, dive in and try it out. Order liberally and widely and be prepared for an assault on the senses.
Oh yes, make sure you don’t wear a white shirt. That’s very important. Mine looked like I had executed some messy gangland hit by the end. Not that I cared. I was replete with a full belly and the fading whiskey warmth of a lot of chilli.
- London 26 reviews
- Soho, London 4 reviews
- Clerkenwell, London 3 reviews
- Islington, London 2 reviews
- Farringdon, London 2 reviews
- Mayfair, London 2 reviews
- City of London, London 1 review
- Walthamstow, London 1 review
- Battersea, London 1 review
- Millbank, London 1 review
- Stoke Newington, London 1 review
- Dalston, London 1 review
- Hackney, London 1 review
- Bloomsbury, London 1 review
- Covent Garden, London 1 review
- Holborn, London 1 review